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Sept. 17, 2013

Posted 9/29/2013 12:53pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 17, 2013

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   Newbies to the crew are for the first time experiencing what we've loved about the fall--you start straightening up from the bent over position weeding or picking vegetables, and stand to pick apples with clear skies and puffy white low clouds as a backdrop!  We've been picking bins full ofLiberty apples, and after that we'll start on the Jonafrees.  Looks like the best apple crop in quite a few years.  We'll have cider and/or apples for a  good while. 

   Looks like a very "beany" fall, with another planting coming along in a week or so, and then one last field later yet. The abundant moisture caused this week's heavy crop to topple the plants.  This coupled with lots of weed pressure made them a little hard to pick.  With most of the beans near the ground, it's hard to keep them clean as the machine picks them.  We try to pick snap beans only when they're dry in the field, and wash them only when absolutely necessary.  If they're wet, they have a tendency to develop mold.  Thus our suggestion to you is to wait until you're ready to cook them for washing.  Though there's lots of ways to make green beans, it's nearly impossible to top the flavor of simply steamed or parboiled fresh beans with a tad of salt.   Don't overcook!

   We've never had anything quite like the crop of eggplant we've had this season.  Normally, it's zucchini that we're looking for some new way to make it; this year it's eggplant.  So we ourselves have been exploring this newly abundant vegetable.  We've often noted how well tomatoes pair with eggplant; and cheese with tomatoes; and herbs with both. How those three combine in the cook's hands are vary.  One can almost use one's creative imagination and not go far wrong.  Previously, we posted a recipe for eggplant rolls with a ricotta/lemon/thyme/breadcrumb filling (Aug. 20).  

Some variations on the theme...

Eggplant tarts: Slice an eggplant thinly lengthwise, brush with oil, and roast or grill about 10 min. until firm/just tender, then line ramekins or individual custard dishes with 2-3 slices,  put in a dollop of fresh roasted tomatoes, then a few basil leaves and a dollop of ricotta or goat's milk chevre, then more basil and fold the eggplant over the top and bake 5 min. 

Eggplant Tubs: Cut the eggplant crosswise into 2" thick slices, score the ends with an "X", brush slices with oil, place on cooking sheet, bake until tender @ hi heat.   Then stuff the eggplant cavities with ricotta & top with fresh roasted tomato sauce with chopped up basil. Bon apetite!

Enjoying vistas of new greens, the new crops, and picking apples, we are, your farmers,

--Don, Becky & the Farm Crew

Coming Events: Apples.  More lettuce; Greens--swiss chard & kale;  Winter squashes--acorn, carnival, butternut, spaghetti;  2-3 weeks--cauliflower. 

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:  Slice cherry tomatoes in half, place cut side up on a slightly oiled cookie sheet, sprenkle with crushed thyme leaves, bake for about an hour @ 200 deg.  until reduced in size by half.  Cool and jar for use in cooking, salads, or when rich tomato flavor needed. (Use the same method for any tomatoes)  Since tomatoes have been in season, we've had a partial jar of this simple "condiment" in the frig to use as desired--on pasta, eggplant parmesan, to jazz leftovers...

Cider:  If you won't be using your cider immediately, simply pour off enough from the plastic jug to allow for expansion and to put it in the freezer.  It will keep almost indefinitely and keeps longer after being thawed than it would have  kept originally.  It can also be heated to boiling and sealed in clean jars or jugs.  We've had good luck with Mason jars and with any gallon or half gallon glass jug with a metal lid and a plastic seal.  (Heat the jar by running hot tap water over it, then pour the hot cider into it and screw on the lid. You'll see the lid depress and seal as the cider cools.)  Cider is a great natural drink, cold or hot.  You can mix it with cranberry juice and make your own cranapple juice.  Kids love icy apple slush.  Freeze the cider in the jug and allow it to half thaw then shake it up vigorously and pour out the icy cold slush.  Various mixes for making hot mulled cider are sold or you can make your own.  Cinnamon stick and alspice are good. 

ID:   If you got one (short crop), the large yellowish football shaped thing is a spaghetti squash.  Some are very large, others small.  To prepare, cut in half lengthwise (a large, strong, thin, sharp knife will do the job), scoop out the seeds, and invert in a shallow baking dish or pan with a little water.  Bake in a slow oven (325deg.) until just tender (about 45 min.).  Then scoop out the flesh with a fork and spoon.  It will have a stranded texture, which is tasty with butter and salt, or any other way you like.  Don't bake too long, or it loses the texture which is so unique to this squash.  Microwaving for 15 min can speed up the baking time.  You can also throw the whole thing into a big pot of boiling water to cook, but it's a little harder to handle red hot footballs. Try tossing this "spaghetti" with a cup of roasted tomatoes, chopped basil, parmesan, and olive oil. 

Special OrdersJalepenos--$25 10# chip. Hungarian Hot Wax peppers--$25/half bushel  (We enjoy jars of these year 'round and are eagerly sought out by visiting adult children.  We've got an  archived easy recipe you'll really like for these pickled Italian hot pepper rings.  Order extras at http://www.kretschmannfarm.com/store/csa-extras  Also, available: Basil-$15/half bushel.  As temps cool, basil is the first to fade from producti